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McKnight, Samuel Ewell (1864–1940)

John Leffler Biography Entry

Samuel Ewell McKnight, rancher, the son of Joseph Peyton and Mary (Elkins) McKnight, was born on January 11, 1864, in Waxahachie, Texas. He worked on the family ranch until he was about twenty-seven, first with his father and then in partnership with two brothers. About 1891 McKnight struck out on his own to lease a ranch near Brady in McCulloch County. Some time later he bought a ranch near Melvin in the same county. In 1906 he sold the Melvin ranch and bought another near Sonora in Sutton County, where he raised Herefords. In 1932 he sold his Sonora ranch and bought 35,000 acres near Carrizo Springs in Dimmit County. For a time McKnight was a director of the First National Bank of Sonora and from the early 1930s to his death was on the board of directors of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He was also active in other livestock organizations, including the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association and the Border Cattle Raisers Organization. McKnight supported building a fence along the Rio Grande to prevent the importation of cattle infested with ticks (see TEXAS FEVER). He married Della Coffman, and together they brought up her sister's seven orphaned children. McKnight died in Carrizo Springs of a cerebral hemorrhage on September 24, 1940.

Cattleman, October 1940. Texarado McKnight Peak, The McKnight Families and Their Descendents (Austin, 1965). Southwestern Sheep and Goat Raiser, October 1940. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

John Leffler, “McKnight, Samuel Ewell,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 13, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995